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Best of Nature Tourism
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Thursday
Apr172008

Purpose

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Carrying traditions close to heart
Gaia Discovery is an online lifestyle magazine designed to give people around the world an insight into sustainable development and tourism. It provides valuable information on people, destinations, adventures, eateries, spas, retreats, sports and environmentally-friendly activities. This goes beyond ecotourism operators to include urban hoteliers that are green in their efforts to uphold sustainability and social responsibility.

Mission
Provide independent information on sustainable living and tourism.

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Celebrating culture
Objectives
Protect the environment, heritage and local communities through awareness generation and reader engagement.

Influence industrialists, builders, hoteliers, manufacturers, investors and decision makers to care for the planet by adopting sustainable and ecologically-sound practices.

Build greater consciousness within people to exercise ethical, socially responsible and environmentally-sound choices as to how they live and travel.

Green Hotels
Green hotels have to go beyond environmental issues to incorporate all aspects of sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Achieving a green standard, as defined by the International Tourism Partnership, includes six key areas:

  • environmental management (e.g. assess environmental impacts, install meters on high energy equipment, work with local businesses to improve environmental standards etc.)
  • policy and framework (e.g. task senior staff with environmental management, institute measurements of progress, draw up suitable policies etc.)
  • staff training and awareness (e.g. launch responsible business program, maintain staff awareness of programs, introduce responsible business policy in staff induction and refresher training etc.)
  • purchasing (e.g. source products that are most sustainable in their manufacture, use and disposal, work with suppliers to achieve a fully sustainable supply chain, give preference to “fair trade” products etc.)
  • people and communities (e.g. identify ways to benefit local community, develop tourism-related businesses in partnership with local community, provide ways for guests to volunteer for local conservation projects etc.)
  • destination protection (e.g. support conservation and cultural heritage preservation projects, contribute to habitat restoration, consider use of non-motorised transportation and electric motors etc.)

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Protecting the balance of nature
The International Tourism Partnership was founded by HRH The Prince of Wales to inspire global leaders in travel and tourism industry on a non-competitive platform to share knowledge and resources and implement initiatives for positive social, economic and environmental issues. It is a key programme under the International Business Leaders Forum (www.iblf.org).

Download PDF of Going Green, Minimum Standards Toward a Sustainable Hotel , by International Tourism Partnership here or check out www.tourismpartnership.org.

Ecotourism
There are many broad views of ecotourism, with a range of definitions and scope but little consensus on meaning. For instance, nature-bound activities are regarded as eco, as defined by International Ecotourism Society. Here’s what it says of ecotourism: "Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people."

The society elaborates that those who implement responsible tourism activities should follow the following ecotourism principles:

  • minimise impact
  • build environmental and cultural awareness and respect
  • provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts
  • provide direct financial benefits for conservation
  • provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people
  • raise sensitivity to host countries' political, environmental, and social climate
  • recognize the need for local inhabitants’ space and privacy

Gaia Discovery Environmental Code
While there are numerous definitions of ecotourism and green travel, Gaia Discovery chooses to report on tourism and travel industry that fall within these parameters:

  • contributes to environmental conservation
  • embraces meaningful and impactful community participation
  • upholds heritage, traditions and cultures of local communities
  • maintains natural habitats and sustains villages
  • promotes fair practices, advances local trade and skills and benefits social programs

Recognising that the environment includes all things living and non-living, we write about people, flora and fauna as they are affected by tourism development in their natural environment– either positively or negatively.

We hope to uphold our planet in all its glory through Gaia Discovery.

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